The arrival of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market this spring has been part of a healthy turnaround of the Davenport shopping center it now anchors.
With new owners, major renovations and the specialty grocer's opening, the Kimberly Crossing retail center is enjoying an upsurge in tenant interest. The former Spring Village Shopping Center, located at 2100 E. Kimberly Road, was well known for its departed anchors: Incredible Pizza and much earlier, one of the Eagle Country Market grocery stores.
But Aaron Zucker, the leasing director for property owner PEBB Enterprises, said the center has attracted several new tenants — and renewed some leases — since Fresh Thyme's opening in April.
PEBB, a Boca Raton, Florida-based real estate investment company, purchased the center in 2015 and gave its facade a facelift as part of Fresh Thyme's arrival.
"There's a good chance we will be 100 percent (occupied) in 2017," Zucker said. "But not everybody we've leased to, will be in by the end of the year."
Other new arrivals have included Salon Centric, T Nails, and iWireless. Tenants that have signed leases include Jujube Frozen Yogurt, which will move from Elmore Avenue, and a Jersey Mike's Subs, he said.
Of the five vacant storefronts, "there is a desire for every space," he said. But "until the deals are fully executed," he said developers continue to recruit other prospects.
Zucker said there also is a signed lease with a tenant, whom he could not yet identify, to build on the vacant outparcel. The site was the former Zeke's Island restaurant, which PEBB demolished as part of its redevelopment of the shopping center. Zeke's has relocated to Harrison Street in Davenport's Hilltop Campus Village.
Traffic a draw
In late April, Fresh Thyme opened what was its 59th store and second in Iowa at the renovated shopping center.
"The entire Quad-Cities has been very receptive, we're excited," said Corky Anderson, operations director for the Downers Grove, Illinois-based company. He said the Davenport store is among the three-year-old company's top producers with "a higher volume than our West Des Moines store."
Ahead of Fresh Thyme's market entrance, he said the community showed "a lot of excitement for us coming to that location." In part, he saw enthusiasm for another grocer in the complex.
Fresh Thyme, as well as PEBB, were drawn by the 35,000-daily traffic count on Kimberly Road.
But when PEBB acquired the complex, it was less than 30 percent occupied. Zucker estimated that 65,000 square feet of the 91,000-square-foot center was vacant.
"The Fresh Thyme deal definitely changed everything," he said of retail interest it has generated. "One year from today, I think you will see Kimberly Crossing where it is full."
Fresh Thyme, which has worked with PEBB in other markets, was not concerned by the high vacancy, Anderson said. "Especially because of the work they put in (renovating), we felt the vacancies wouldn't be there for long."
Kimberly Crossing also is home to longtime tenants Sanitary Cleaners, Dollar General, IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union and Vision for Less, the later of which will be getting a new facade next year. Zucker said Mediacom was the only tenant to leave the center. Half of its space will be the new Jersey Mike's, a national sub sandwich chain.
Kimberly Crossing marked the first Iowa development for PEBB, which manages about 2 million square feet, mostly retail space, in nine states. In addition to Iowa, they are in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Missouri.
At 90,000 square feet, Kimberly Crossing is "a sizeable investment for us," Zucker said.
Jersey Mike's will make its Quad-City debut, but it's a homecoming for Quad-City native Aron Lees, who will own and operate the new sandwich shop with his wife Camilla.
After 10 years away from the Quad-Cities, Lees was immediately impressed with the renovated shopping center. After surveying sites on bustling 53rd Street and bringing in a Jersey Mike's real estate expert, Lees said, "We knew right away (Kimberly Crossing) was where we wanted to be."